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Gray excluded from letter to the Senate

Column/Ben Stanger

Paul Gray and MIT have been disgraced by the higher educaion community.

In the second week of July, presidents from all eight Ivy League colleges and twelve other schools of high reputation wrote Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole and Minority Leader Robert C. Byrd urging United States sanctions against the South African government. On July 11, the Senate voted in favor of official economic sanctions against South Africa.

Harvard Vice President John Shattuck said the letter had a "very significant impact on the Senate vote," and moderate, "on the fence," senators were influenced strongly by the letter.

The letter was conceived and sent without an invitation to the president of MIT. Paul Gray was not even aware that the letter was written.

Shattuck said that the signers were chosen from a group present at one of two meetings: the Ivy League president's meeting, held in late June, and a meeting of the South African Research Consortium (SARC), held in the first week in July. SARC is composed of approximately 40 universities. Its members discuss information from the Investment Research and Responsibility Center.

MIT was unrepresented at both meetings; MIT is not a member of the Ivy League nor is it a member of or SARC.

Shattuck said that there was not enough time to allow for the organizers of the letter to consult Gray. The presidents were informed on July 8 of the upcoming Senate vote, and they were not sure that it was on the Senate agenda until the morning of the vote. Therefore, only those presidents who had shown an active interest in writing to the Senate were consulted, he added.

Even so, plans to write to the Senate had long been in the works. Harvard President Derek Bok appeared before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs in late May, and a letter was considered at the Ivy League and SARC meetings.

Stanford President Donald Kennedy was one of the presidents who signed the letter. If there is more communication between the presidents of Harvard and Stanford than the presidents of Harvard and MIT, then MIT is not receiving the status it should.

Perhaps some of the presidents signed because of pressure on their institutions to divest. MIT has not felt the same pressure to divest that Harvard and Columbia have. Could this be related to MIT's exclusion from participating in a concerted effort?

Shattuck does not think so. He said that the letter came "from the deep involvement of a small number of presidents [in pushing for legislation]."

President Gray has stated his personal position on apartheid clearly and often. "Apartheid is an evil, unsupportable, and vicious system."

The letter to the Senate was also a personal statement. It is the responsibility of the presidents who signed to seek out other influential presidents who share their opinion and could add drive to their efforts. Similarly, President Gray must make his voice heard so that he will be included in future efforts.

Fuck all other schools. Long live MIT.